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Tattoos and intimidating gestures can't always win cricket matches for India

By Sudhansu R Das 

Team India waited with baited breath for the outcome of the Pakistan vs Afghanistan match. Speculation was on about India’s return to the game if Pakistan loses to Afghanistan until Pakistan’s tailender, Naseem hit two massive sixes to win the match for Pakistan. Unfortunately, Afghanistan lost the match after being in a strong position till the last over of the game; two full touch balls in the final over turned the match into Pakistan side. The Afghanistan team would never forget this blunder and shock for a long time. India’s team management should introspect and take tough decision keeping in view of the tough match situation in the world cup matches.
India lost two crucial matches in the Asia Cup. It could not defend a big total of 176 against Pakistan due to mediocre bowling attack, sloppy fielding and unimaginative captainship. It failed against Sri Lanka in similar fashion; it could not defend another respectable T 20 total of 171 runs. It was a pathetic show for the Indian team; it has painted the team as a paper tiger which fumbles in the tough ground situation. "Too much theory ... is not a very good thing. What happens on the field is completely different," reportedly said Sunil Gavaskar, "You have to have a Plan A, B and C, which is where the Indian team in this particular tournament has not had alternate plans.”
Playing against a tough team is not like endorsing a product; today many players mint crores of rupees from commercials and do not work to improve their skill since there is no threat to their place in the team. The players need to fight for their place and past record should not be the criteria for choosing a player. India is yet to find players like Rahul Dravid, Virendra Shehwag, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh who had the courage to demolish the fastest bowling attacks in the world. Courage, mental and physical toughness come first before sound technique. When a batsman faces a pace bowler with 150 plus speed and swing, they need to have raw courage to attack the bowlers. Shehwag, Dhoni and Yuvraj took the rib line bowling on their bodies to play across; they could demolish any pace attack in the world. All three players had the skill to stay on the wicket also. Facing fast bowlers was fun for them.
Rohit Sharma is a big gun for team India but his pushy foot is a threat to himself; the foot never works well against quality fast bowlers with swing. The new ball swings in and out to find the edge of Rohit’s bat or make him LBW; he looks vulnerable in the first three overs. Rohit Sharma needs to think about his defense against quality pace and spin bowlers in order to remain on the wicket when the bowlers try to dominate.
The good news for India is that Virat Kohli has got his confidence and class. He has the courage, skill and the power to tame the quickies. He has overcome his weakness of edging a fast out swing delivery just outside the off stump. Kohli has returned to form after he scored a swashbuckling 60 against Pakistan and a century against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup. A natural player, Kohli can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But no single batsman can win the game; team India needs perfect balance. The team management should hunt for all rounders like Kapil Dev and Mahinder Amarnath; it is high time for the selector to work hard and identify at least five young fast bowlers with speed above 145 km per hour. A country with 142 crore people should produce fast bowlers like Pakistan. Though Jasprit Bumrah spearheads the pace attack, the team needs two more quickies and a quality spinner with the ability to hit hard at the end.
The biggest problem for India is how to handle tight match situations; captainship skill matters a lot. A captain is a constant learner of the opponents’ weakness. Accordingly he changes his bowling and makes field placement. There is no room for stereo type approach in tight match situations. One has to think out of the box to give a surprise to the opponent. India has not found a captainship material after Mahindra Singh Dhoni. Team India can bring Dhoni back. Age does not matter for Dhoni. His calculation, his shrewd move and his cool resolve snatch victory from the verge of defeat. In tough match situations the team needs a captain who can think creatively. Nothing is more important than the nation’s glory. We can’t expect a 100 or 50 from Dhoni in a slug over over but a quick fire 20 or 30 will turn the situation. The way he batted in the last IPL showed he is still the slog over specialist. Today there is no slog overs specialist in the team who can score consistently like Dhoni. Hardik Pandya has occasional brilliance; he can convert the defeat into victory but he is not consistent. His tattoos and intimidating gestures can't always win matches for India. The team management needs to find quality players in their teen or in their early 20s to build the future team. A team can’t afford to have players in their 30s for a long time and needs to give big match exposure to young players.

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